The Miracle of Change

by Jeff Foster – April 2020 Newsletter
https://www.lifewithoutacentre.com/

What is the point
of arguing with life as it is?

Here is the miracle and paradox of change. When we tire of our internal violence, when we are no longer at war with the way things are now, when we no longer argue with the present scene in the movie of our lives, we come to rest. And then, from a place of rest and a deep connection to the ground of Now, new vistas open up, unexplored forests of possibility reveal themselves. New connections are made, new solutions emerge. From a place of equanimity and acceptance, things that seemed certain are now not so certain, blocks are no longer solid blocks, old futures begin to collapse and new futures become possible. Energies that seemed intolerable a moment ago are now allowed in, allowed to move, to express and release their creativity and healing power. Because our eyes are open, new details are apparent in the present scene, details that we had become blind to, in our rush to “a better future”.

From a place of deep internal peace, we can more easily take the next step. And sometimes the next step means taking no step at all, but falling deeply in love with where we are! This is NOT the same as giving up. This is not passivity or indulgence in the ‘negative’. This is not the same as abandoning all hope of a better future. There is no abandonment here. This is true courage: The willingness to slow down, be present, drink in all the richness – the joy and the sorrow, the doubt and the creativity – of the present scene of the movie of our lives.

The movie of “I” has not been written yet; it writes itself as we go along. And in resisting the present scene, you are actually resisting the entire movie. Resistance can only breed resistance.

Sometimes, the point of arguing with life, is to get you to a point where you are tired of arguing with life! And then perhaps, exhausted from the war, you sink deeply into the present moment, resting in its embrace, trusting the way of things, accepting your own imperfections. And then everything seems possible, and everything feels alive as you feel alive, and real change can come. Perhaps slowly, perhaps in a great tidal wave. But you are no longer pushing for change. You are letting it happen. You are aligned at last, no longer part of the problem, but already an expression of the solution.

Sometimes you need to stop trying to change the moment, for the moment to change all by itself.

– Jeff Foster

None of Us Are Immune…to change

by Jeff Foster – April 2020 Newsletter
https://www.lifewithoutacentre.com/

It’s going to be okay.
It really is.

We will face this situation together with love, humour and patience.
We will weep together, we will laugh together.
We will discover togetherness in our apartness.

And the worst of it will end one day.
And we will have learned so much by then.

We will now be called to face very difficult feelings inside of us.
Fear. Grief. The loss of an old way of life. Our devastated plans.
We will learn to face ourselves. Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide.
Nowhere to go except within.

A sacred quarantine.

We will learn to face our boredom. Our restlessness. The part of us that wants to be somewhere else, with someone else, doing something else, having some other experience, in some other Now, living in some other life.
We will let go of the wonderful future we had planned.
We will let the fantasy future die, release it, and grieve it.
We will return to the solidity and warmth of the present.

We will make the present into our home.
We will begin again, here, build a new house on new soil.
We will explore a new way of life.
Strange, at first. But full of possibility.
Slower. Kinder. Quieter.

We will talk to each other honestly about death, and life, and impermanence, and how we feel about all the changes that have come to us and our loved ones.
We will learn to value life a little more.
Yes, perhaps we will learn to value life a little more.

And live with our hearts cracked slightly open to the elements.
And lean into uncertainty, and find our salvation there.

None of us are immune to change.
To rupture. To the shattering of old, familiar forms.
This is the way of things, this has always been the way of things.

From this perspective, nothing has gone wrong.
Crisis simply means “turning point”, and none of us are immune from the turning.

The breaking of the old makes way for the birth of new.
It has always been this way.

Love. Humour. Patience. With these things, we will come through.
Stronger than before. Renewed. Ready.

I am sending you all my love, my friends.

– Jeff Foster

THERE ARE NO ‘DESTRUCTIVE EMOTIONS’ (ONLY DESTRUCTIVE REACTIONS) by Jeff Foster

[I love this…I do wonder what he would say about ‘chronic’ emotions…???]

There are no ‘destructive emotions’, just as there are no ‘destructive thoughts’.

Emotions – sadness, fear, anger, joy, excitement, disgust – are simply energies in the body. Thoughts are just thoughts in the mind. What causes ‘destruction’ and violence is not thoughts and feelings themselves, for they are always neutral and natural energies in us, but our automatic and habitual REACTIONS to those thoughts and feelings, our defences around them, the ways we go to war with them, deny them, numb ourselves to them, act them out in harmful ways, even attacking others (or ourselves) in our search for peace and relief from them.

Fear and anger can be incredibly uncomfortable energies, of course! The tightness in the belly or chest, the raging heartbeat, the heat, the dizziness, the confusion, the nausea….

If we look with an honest awareness, there’s a part of us that doesn’t’ WANT to be having this experience, doesn’t want the intensity, the fire, the discomfort, the aliveness, and wants to blame someone or something for the way we feel. We were never taught how to meet this discomfort in the body, stay with it, breathe into it. We feel an impulse – to run or to fight, to escape, to attack someone, to get out of our bodies. We feel the urge to lash out, to call someone names, to punch, to try and hurt them as much as possible. This is our reaction to the feeling, NOT the feeling itself. The feeling is just a feeling. Our reaction is our reaction. We must disentangle the two. Drench them both with understanding…

This is where meditation comes in. We can slow right down now. Breathe. Feel our feet on the ground. Notice all the intense sensations in our bodies – the fluttering, the pounding, the vibrations, the heat, the sharpness, the tensions, the pressure. We can bring awareness to all the pictures and voices in our minds too, the fantasy movie we are playing out, the internal screaming, thoughts about past and future, thoughts about hurting someone, breaking something, lashing out, running away, destroying the world or destroying ourselves. We can see that these are all images, pictures, not reality.

We can begin, moment by moment, to ALLOW all our thoughts and sensations to be here. Breathe into them. Drench them with fascination. They will not harm us, or anyone, as we allow them. This is a very private, internal experience…

We can interrupt our habitual ‘reaction’ to feelings by slowing right down and actually becoming curious about the reactive part of us, the part that wants to lash out. We can bring great compassion and understanding to that destructive impulse – without having to act on it. And without numbing it. Seeing it as just a lost and lonely part of us. An innocent child, looking for help. Something in us, seeking relief.

If we feel guilt or shame over having ‘negative’ thoughts and feelings, we can notice and allow that too.

We can now respond from presence rather than react from our programming. We can acknowledge, in presence, that we feel afraid, or that we feel angry, yes, and that we also feel the impulse or urge to get out of our bodies, to attack, to blame, to hurt ourselves or others. We can see these possibilities but we don’t have to act them out. Just see them with non-judgmental eyes.

Fear and anger are not destructive in themselves – but we must really LOOK to know this. We must untangle the natural feeling from our resistance to, or our conditioned reaction to, the feeling. We must drench our physical sensations with loving awareness, and shine a compassionate light on the mind too. So we are no longer a slave to our reactions.

Bringing into awareness an old and deeply ingrained pattern, we can now choose something entirely new: a deep commitment to our feelings and our bodies in the present moment, a profound compassion for the frightened or angry one inside of us, and inside every human being. And from presence, we can say to ourselves, or to a friend, “I feel afraid” or “I feel angry”. And we can tell our story, share our vulnerability, owning our own thoughts and feelings, even if they are fiery and raw.

There are no “destructive emotions” – only our emotions, and then our impulse to destroy them, or destroy others in our search for relief from them.

What if we can actually find relief – and even peace – at the core of the intensity of our emotions?

Peace at the heart of fear? Calm at the core of anger? Great joy at the centre of sorrow?

If we actually allow ourselves to feel, to lean into the scary and fiery feelings, to breathe into our bellies and chests and throats, to soften into the moment and allow all thoughts in our minds, we may find gold.

– Jeff Foster

‘Healing’, in the deepest sense of the word – Jeff Foster

I want to talk a little about ‘healing’, in the deepest sense of the word.
Healing, not as the removal of symptoms, but as the recognition of wholeness right in the midst of our pain. 
Healing as presence, the natural welcoming of whatever arises.
Sadness heals you from sadness.
It heals you from the identity of ‘the sad one’, or rather, ‘the one who wants to be free from sadness’. It brings you into intimacy with life. It aligns you with what is.
It helps you soften into the body, into the Earth, heart cracked open to love.
Anger heals you from anger.
It reveals to you, at its burning core, that there is no ‘angry person’, there is just power. Life. Pure non-dual energy that we call ‘anger’ and run away from in superstition and unconsciousness.
It reminds you of your deep worth. Helps you hear your unique voice.
Fear heals you from fear.
It liberates you from the story ‘I am afraid’. It is an explosion of life, belonging to no-one. It is a great and misunderstood protector.
It knows the excitement of moving into the Unknown.
Shame heals you from shame.
There is no need to be ashamed when shame comes to visit. Shame only wants to be held in unconditional love, in the warm Presence that you are. And there, it dissolves back into its source.
It was only trying to keep you safe.
Simply heal from the idea
that you need to ‘heal’ feelings.
All feelings are innocent at their core.
They come with lessons, gifts.
Don’t try to heal them.
They come to heal you.
To remind you of your natural wholeness.
If you would only let them move through…